Racing out of the gates during season one and season two Prison Break faltered in season three and nearly collapsed in season four. In Season four we see Michael (Wentworth Miller) seeking revenge for the death of Sarah, Lincoln (Dominic Purcell) and LJ in Panama and the rest of our favorite escapees still in Sona. On paper this concept seems quite interesting as we have never seen a vengeful Michael on the show nor have we seen him go after something or someone on his own. Prison Break however was able to ruin all of that in the mere opener of the season.
In the first ten minutes of episode one Michael hunts down Gretchen (Jodi O’Keefe), Whistler (Chris Vance) and Mahone (William Fichtner) who are searching for a device named Scylla for the Company. But before Michael was able to pull the trigger on Gretchen, we get a “twist” in that Sara (Sarah Wayne Callies) is actually alive and that her death was faked because she escaped in Panama. So what could have been an interesting couple of episodes seeing Michael hunt Gretchen was completely disregarded. Not to mention Whistler who had so much mystery and importance in season three, was killed off abruptly by a Company operative after being found colluding with Mahone and Michael behind Gretchen’s back. Killing Whistler so quickly literally made whatever happened in season three irrelevant. What was the point of investing so much time on Whistler if his death was going to be this meaningless?
After his death Michael is again on the run only to be found by Homeland Security agent Don Self (Michael Rapaport). Upon being found, Self convinces Michael to help him take down the Company by uncovering Scylla (which is spread out between six cards). Self then brings Michael together again with Mahone, Lincoln, Bellick, Sucre and of course Sara. As much as I hate seeing shows bringing back characters from the dead. Bringing back Sara was actually a welcomed surprise because we never saw a proper goodbye between these two characters in season 3.
To the show’s credit season four again changes up the formula for our protagonists. Season one and three were about escaping while season two was about surviving on the run. Season four essentially creates a Fast and Furious scenario for our protagonists which was actually fun at times. As episode after episode was about seeing this band of misfits coming together and finding ways to collect all the cards that make up Scylla.
Character development has also been a constant positive for this show and season four again proved that fact with Alexander Mahone and Theodore Bagwell (Robert Knepper). Mahone quite arguably had the greatest loss of anyone on the show having his very own son die at the hands of the Company. The character’s mission on finding the man who killed his son was also very riveting and made the show worth watching during the first half. Then with Bagwell we again see him searching for something that has always alluded him. In this case after having his entire life summed up behind bars, we actually see Bagwell enjoying a blue collar lifestyle. Which brought forth a ton of laughs.
Sadly the rest of the show just went off the rails in a variety of ways. The company as the main antagonist to Michael and the gang just felt exhausting during season four. Even the general who ran the Company never seemed dangerous enough as all he did was send out hit men to kill our protagonists. The show then also added multiple subplots which created multiple villains for our show. For whatever reason we see characters like Don Self betraying Michael to sell Scylla himself. We also come to find out that Michael’s mother was still alive and she herself became a villain. The show simply became a muddled mess that was trying to create twists and turns where twists and turns were not needed.
Away from the useless villains in season four, the show also felt the urge to bring back old characters for the sake of it being the last season. Characters like Agent Kellerman, who was killed off camera, came back without much explanation as to how he survived. Even C-Note is brought back for literally an episode and a half for no reason. Literally Kellerman and C-Note who were great characters in season one and two were relegated for fan service that fell on deaf ears.
Above all the mishaps the show made in season four was the introduction of a terminal illness for Michael. An illness that actually took Michael’s life by season’s end. Even though the Prison Break movie Prison Break: The Final Break ended up providing a different death for Michael. This terminal illness for Michael was just a subplot on top of another ten subplots which took away from what should have been a memorable farewell season to the show.
With season five heading our way on April 4th there could be a chance for redemption. Or this all could be a huge mistake, only time will tell. But let’s cross our fingers and hope Prison Break can reach back and bring some of its old luster back.